Bleckley County Sheriff Kristopher Coody, a top cop in Georgia, admitted in court on Monday to groping television judge Glenda Hatchett during a law enforcement conference in January 2022. Coody pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of sexual battery in Cobb County State Court and was sentenced to one year on probation, along with a $500 fine and 400 hours of community service. He also officially resigned from his position as sheriff.
The incident took place at a Georgia Sheriff's Association conference, where Hatchett, an Atlanta attorney and star of reality shows Judge Hatchett and The Verdict With Judge Hatchett, was a guest. Former DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown introduced her to colleagues, including Coody. At the hotel bar outside Atlanta, Hatchett made a casual comment about not knowing where Coody's home county was located. In response, Coody pointed a finger at her chest and said, "In the heart of Georgia."
According to Hatchett, Coody repeated the line and proceeded to grab and squeeze her left breast. She was left frozen in shock, and it was Brown who intervened, grabbing Coody's arm and pulling him away. Following the incident, Hatchett experienced significant distress and sought counseling. She also reported the incident to Cobb County authorities, who obtained an arrest warrant for Coody.
During the court hearing, Hatchett spoke about the impact the incident had on her, stating that it had "cut [her] to the core." She emphasized the importance of holding Coody accountable and spoke out on behalf of other victims who might not have the same platform. "I don't want to be the poster woman for this, but I think it's important for me to be very candid," she said.
Judge Carl Bowers expressed his sympathy for Hatchett and apologized on behalf of the community. "I'm sorry that you had suffered from this in the community in which I serve. I respect the fact that you have come here today," he said.
Coody's attorney, Joel Pugh, confirmed that his client had sent a resignation letter to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp on Monday morning. In a statement, Coody claimed that he had no intention of touching Hatchett inappropriately but acknowledged acting in a careless manner. He expressed his apologies to the citizens of Bleckley County and vowed to overcome the setback.
Hatchett's courage in speaking out about the incident was praised by supporters, who noted the importance of holding individuals accountable for their actions. Hatchett hopes that her case will shed light on the issue and provide support to other victims who may feel powerless. "It's important that other victims see me holding him accountable," she said.
The guilty plea and resignation of Sheriff Kristopher Coody mark the end of a troubling chapter, but Hatchett's bravery and determination to seek justice continue to inspire others.